China yields six more dragon millipede species

Six new species of dragon millipede have been discovered in China, though only a few of these dark-loving critters consider caves as their habitat.

Dragon millipedes, aside from their preference for dark environments, have been cited as the ultimate “creepy crawlies.” They have skinny bodies with a good number of legs, all topped off with long antennae. Another distinct feature is their series of spine-like projections that serve as armor, scaring away predators who may venture too close.

The animals can emit toxins as a way of self-defense, as some of the new species produce and release hydrogen cyanide to deter predators. And in terms of their color, one of the new species has a translucent, ghost-like appearance, and another has a curiously white color.

“This genus is conspicuous in its species generally showing a dragon-like appearance, with strongly wing, spine or antler-shaped paraterga,” explained the researchers in a statement.

The new study followed up on a previous one, where a species called the “shocking pink dragon millipede” was found in Thailand in 2007. This discovery led to the revelation of more never before seen millipede species in the Mekong region and in other parts of the world. The new discoveries, however, do not have the shocking pink hues of the millipedes discovered in 2007, yet stand out in their own special way, as mentioned above.

 

Study co-author Liu Weixin, a Ph.D. candidate at Guangzhou’s South China Agricultural University, teamed up with researchers from China, Germany, and Russia, to make the new discovery. Liu had previously discovered new millipede species in over 200 caves in her home country of China, and as she herself said, the six new discoveries are among her “most spectacular” yet. Still, there are more millipede species that have yet to be discovered, or further researched on, and Liu is currently researching on a new batch of about two dozen species, also discovered in Chinese caves.